WASHINGTON - August 17 - The National Organization for Women, which testified in 1981 in support of the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, has formally requested to testify at the Senate confirmation hearings of her proposed replacement, nominee John G. Roberts. NOW President Kim Gandy sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Ranking Judiciary Member Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., requesting an opportunity to testify.
Gandy's letter states: "After a thorough examination of the available record of the nominee, NOW has concluded that his confirmation represents a danger to many of the rights for which we have worked so hard. . . . To confirm John G. Roberts to fill the seat [O'Connor] held for 24 years would jeopardize the full range of established women's rights. Through our testimony, we hope to apprise the committee of the basis of our strong opposition to this nominee."
NOW's opposition to Roberts is based on his statements and record on a number of issues related to women's equality and civil rights. His recently-released comments on pay equity indicate a cavalier attitude toward economic justice for women, and a disdain for women (even Republican members of Congress) who stand up for their rights. During his career, Roberts has argued to restrict Title IX, the equal education law for women and girls, and to limit the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act; he has objected strenuously to federal affirmative action programs; he has disparaged the landmark Violence Against Women Act; and he has been an active proponent of "states' rights."
When the federal government has moved to protect or expand civil and individual rights, Roberts has frequently objected; however, when the federal government has sought to limit rights, Roberts has been supportive, especially where restrictions on reproductive rights are concerned. His work for the Reagan administration contains some of the most disturbing news for women, particularly in that area. As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts filed an amicus curiae brief in NOW's case against Operation Rescue and other violent blockaders, supporting Operation Rescue and individuals who violently blocked access to women's clinics. In another case, Roberts co-authored a brief arguing that: "[W]e continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled. The Court's conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion. . . . finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution."
"If Roberts succeeds in overturning the fundamental right to privacy, we will lose much more than abortion," says Gandy. "We will also lose birth control, emergency contraception, and the right to make personal decisions without government intrusion."
Gandy concludes: "Not only is Roberts not the moderate some are making him out to be, he is a throwback to the 1950s when it comes to women's rights."